Statement Andean Coca Producers

On the occasion of the United Nations Special Session on Drugs New York, June 1998
Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC)
May 18, 1998

The Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC), which groups together men and women coca growers from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, met in Puno May 17-18, 1998, to analyze the situation of our people, put a distance between ourselves and the anti-drug policies currently being implemented and propose alternatives that need to be put in practice at the grassroots, demanded from the Andean governments in office today and proposed to the international community.

After listening to the reports on the situation in each of our countries, studying the preparatory documents for the UN Special General Assembly on Drugs (New York, June 8-10, 1998), examining the activities being proposed by the European Council on Drugs and Development (ENCOD) in its "For a Just and Efficient Drug Policy," and discussing national, regional and international policies, we reached the following conclusions and proposals:

1. In the last year, the so-called "War Against Drugs,' which, in reality, is a war against coca and coca growers, has intensified in our countries:

In BOLIVIA this war has been expressed through militarization, with more than 5,000 soldiers being used to forcibly eradicate plantations in the Cochabamba region, that has led to 9 deaths, 83 people injured and 180 arrests since the beginning of the year. Through its so-called "Dignity Plan,' the Bolivian government has threatened to eliminate coca crops in the region, estimated to cover 38,000 hectares, by the year 2002. The plan also calls for the elimination of coca plants in the Yungas region of La Paz. In addition, the government has threatened to confiscate land and expel the campesino farmers from Cochabamba, moving them to other areas. The government is also maneuvering to kick out of Congress coca growers and campesinos representatives.

In COLOMBIA this war is taking on increasingly tragic levels with the intensification of crop fumigation using Glifosato, Imazapyr and other chemicals that affect the environment and the ecosystem, the state's support of paramilitaries who brutally assassinate men and women in social organizations and human rights groups, and the increased poverty among campesinos living in areas where coca, poppies and marijuana crops are grown. The so-called alternative development, proposed under the PLANTE program, has not reached the campesinos in the affected areas and drug trafficking continues to infiltrate diverse civil and government institutions. Coca crops have grown exponentially in the country and are now found in areas that are not traditional growing zones. There are at least 1 00,000 hectares of coca crops.

In PERU the policy of forced eradication of old and new crops in the Alto Huallaga has been re-started, coca- growing as a legal activity, which is protected in the 1991 Penal Code, is no longer respected, and physical goals for coca crop reduction, included in the CONTRADROGAS Plan that was presented to the US government last year, have been accepted. In addition, the government has abandoned its international strategy of promoting the value of the coca leaf and it does not recognize or respect social organizations or coca growers associations. With the UNDCP and USAID, the government continues to promote an "alternative development" strategy that, to date, has not offered any benefits to the country's coca-growing regions. The reduction of hectares used to grow coca to less than 70,000 in 1997 was the result of a world crisis in the price of coca leaves and their derivatives, and the efforts of coca growers to plant other crops using their own scarce resources even though they are not guaranteed markets of fair prices. This reduction is not the result of a "successful" air interdiction policy and much less so that of an "alternative development" policy, as the Peruvian and US governments maintain.

2. The policies being implemented by the governments of the Andean region follow the demands of international conventions since the approval, in 1961, of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs which calls for the eradication of coca crops and consumption, criminalization of drug consumption, and a frontal attack on activities related to drug trafficking. Later, in the 1988 Convention Against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (approved in Vienna), the governments of Bolivia and Peru, thanks to scientific and anthropological research carried out by Andean, European and US experts, proposed an integral focus to address the problem and expressed reservation to Art. 14 of the Convention, achieving a level of respect for the traditional use of coca in countries where there is historic evidence of this use (Bolivia, Peru, northern Argentina, northern Chile and some communities in Colombia).

3. After a decade applying these policies, drug consumption has increased, crops used to produce drugs have increased and drug trafficking and its corrupting and violent effects have proliferated throughout the word. In addition, the Andean governments have backpedaled in respect to the thesis of coresponsibility, an integral approach and the proposal to respect traditional customs and coca crops. What coca crops clearly show is that DEMAND stimulates SUPPLY of drugs. To this can be added the effects of neoliberal macroeconomic policies that have fed drug trafficking, further weakened campesino economies and rural development and fomented drug consumption.

4. The UN Special General Assembly on Drugs, to be held June 8-10 in New York, will be held within this context and, as was expected, the Andean governments are not attending with a joint proposal. For their part, the European governments will bring to New York a proposal different from that of the UNDCP and the US government, maintaining that alternative development should not be conditioned on the eradication of crops. But the proposal, nevertheless, does not question neoliberal and protectionist policies and the rules of international trade that affect our coca-growing zones.

5. The CAPHC proposes the need for civil societies in the Andean nations to bring a joint proposal to New York, and we salute the European NGOs in ENCOD for their "For a Just and Efficient Drug Policy," a document which we adhere to and support. In addition to these international efforts, the CAPHC ratifies the proposals that it has maintained since its founding and which can be summarized in the following points:

We reject the war against coca and coca growers, as well as the militarization of coca-growing zones. We demand the withdrawal of the armed forces from our areas and an end of US support for this militarization.

We are against all unilateral certification processes, such as that applied by the United States, or multilateral approaches such as that which might be applied through the OAS, because these kinds of policies violate our sovereignty, undermine our democracies, introduce principles that are not accepted by international legislation and which do not consider proposals from the Andean nations' civil societies.

We reiterate that Andean coca growers are against drug consumption in the North and South and we are declared enemies of drug trafficking and its corrupting and violent effects.

We ratify that for us and for millions of people in our countries coca is not cocaine, coca growers are not drug traffickers and the coca leaf consumer is not a drug addict. Any just and effective international policy must consider these peaceful principles of our peoples.

We are convinced that with the current neoliberal economic policies drug trafficking and drugs themselves will continue to spread. As such, we demand substantial changes in these policies and in the rules of international trade that permit us to sell other products grown in our areas.

We maintain that alternative development policies are not economically efficient for campesino farmers and only feed state and international bureaucracies. As such we need to promote campesino producers as agents of their own integral, rural and sustainable development plans, projects, and programs.

We believe that to achieve these proposals a serious commitment of governments and international cooperation agencies is necessary, but the resources destined for this must be channeled directly to the campesino producers organized in union, federations, associations, boards and fronts.

We ratify the need to support, at the national and international level, the value of the coca leaf so that it is removed from the UN's 1961 First List of Narcotics and in this way the peoples of the word will be able to benefit from its therapeutic and industrial properties.

Puno, Peru, May 18, 1998

Fundado el 31 de Marzo de 1991 en La Paz - Bolivia
Evo Morales Ayma, Presidente (Bolivia)
Genaro Cahuana Serna, Vice Presidente (Peru)
Omayra Morales R., Sec. de Difusión y Cultura (Colombia)
C. Francisco Barrantes C., Sec. Permanente (Peru)
Modesto Condori, Sec. de Organización (Bolivia)
Claudio Ramírez Cuevas, Sec. de Relac. Internacionales (Bolivia)